With the Asia Cup slated to begin on Wednesday, we take a look at 5 Things to expect from the grand event.
1. Old foes to reignite a perennial rivalry!
India and Pakistan haven’t faced off since Virat Kohli humbled the Pakistan bowling attack at the World Cup Down Under, but these two old foes are set to reignite a rivalry that is a pure fight for bragging rights. Make no mistake, the mere mention of an India-Pakistan encounter evokes strong emotions on both sides of the border, and given how the sport has the power to unite, a high-octane match like this is exactly what both nations need. Pakistan will have their eyes set on beating India for the first time in a World Cup when these two sides square off at Dharamsala in March in the World T20, and the Asia Cup clash promises to be a mouth-watering appetizer for two cricket-crazy nations. Time to take out the Blue or Green jersey and wear your nation’s flag like a badge!
2. Two potential superstars in the making!
The Indian team was in desperate need of a fast-bowling allrounder and a death bowler, given India’s troubles in the ODI series against Australia Down Under. Then came Hardik Pandya and Jaspreet Bumrah – two proven performers who were instrumental in Mumbai Indians’ success in the previous IPL. While Hardik is known for hitting the lusty blows and stifling batsmen with his variations in pace with the ball in hand, Bumrah has won over the cricketing fraternity with an orthodox action and his ability to bowl the yorkers in the death overs. The Asia Cup provides an ideal platform for these two youngsters to prove their mettle and establish themselves in the Indian limited-overs setup.
3. Bangladesh – Not favorites, but you dare write them off!
Make no mistake, Bangladesh are a force to reckon with in limited overs cricket. A young, sprightly team with a few experienced heads, the Tigers stunned the cricketing world when they knocked England out of the World Cup en route to reaching the quarter-finals. With series victories over India, Pakistan and South Africa in recent times, and boasting a home advantage, the Asia Cup promises to be a great chance for Bangladesh to win a major competition. With pitches expected to be spinner-friendly, Bangladesh have the ammunition to stun the big teams. The only question is, can they live up to the expectations?
4. Return of a prince!
Yuvraj Singh has achieved everything there is to achieve in the game, but even at the twilight of his career, the hunger doesn’t seem to have diminished. The Punjab boy grabbed his chance emphatically in the 3rd T20 against Australia at Sydney, playing a crucial cameo to guide India to a memorable run chase. With the Indian top order looking strong, Yuvraj will need to play the role of a finisher batting at the No.5 position. Having come under fire for a forgettable innings against Sri Lanka in 2014 World T20 final, the Southpaw will be looking to make amends and perform to the best of his ability in the Asia Cup and the upcoming World T20 on home turf.
5. A young, exuberant Sri Lanka!
It was a sheer treat to watch the likes of Rajitha and Chameera bowl at Pune and run riot against arguably the strongest batting lineup in the world. It was a delightful display of fast bowling, and although the young Lankans took a beating in the next two T20 games, Sri Lanka have all the makings of a strong limited-overs outfit. With captain Chandimal leading from the front, and old, experienced heads in Dilshan and Kapugedara in the ranks, not to forget an exuberant bowling attack, Sri Lanka could give India and Pakistan a real run for their money.